Thomas R Malthus An Essay On The Principle Of Population

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The neo-Malthusian controversy, or related debates of many years later, has seen a similar central role assigned to the numbers of children born.

In his 1798 book , Malthus observed that an increase in a nation’s food production improved the well-being of the populace, but the improvement was temporary because it led to population growth, which in turn restored the original per capita production level.

In order to prevent this from happening, he posits, people, especially the poor, should have children later in life and limit the size of their families.

(It was the guiding spirit behind the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.) The central point of the Essay is that population increases geometrically while food supplies increase arithmetically, which will eventually lead to starvation and disease in the poorest sections of the community.

He also won prizes for declamations in Latin and Greek, and in 1788 graduated as Ninth Wrangler.

The same year he took Holy Orders and in 1796 accepted an Anglican curacy at Albury in Surrey.

In other words, mankind had a propensity to utilize abundance for population growth rather than for maintaining a high standard of living, a view that has become known as the “” or the “Malthusian spectre”.

Populations had a tendency to grow until the lower class suffered hardship and want and greater susceptibility to famine and disease, a view that is sometimes referred to as a Malthusian catastrophe.

Before Malthus, it was generally assumed that a country’s economic performance would improve as its population grew.

However, Malthusian population theory suggests that population growth is stronger than economic growth, leading to impoverishment and impoverishment.


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